People with diabetes are cutting back on care during the recession, according to an analysis conducted by the Associated Press (AP). The report indicates that diabetics have been going without doctors' visits, blood-sugar testing, insulin, and other medicines as they lose income and health insurance in these tough economic times.

To properly care for your diabetes, you must work closely with your doctor, and monitor and manage your symptoms daily. Otherwise, you increase the risk of diabetes complications such as amputation, blindness and cardiovascular disease. Although treatment can be expensive, there are ways you can reduce the cost of diabetes.

• Shop around. Try different pharmacies in your neighborhood to determine who is offering the best deals. The price variations may surprise you. Also, pharmacies in stores such as Wal-Mart usually offer lower prices on medications and health products.

• Surf for sales. Can't find good deals at your neighborhood pharmacies on diabetes tools such as test strips, syringes or blood glucose monitors? Surf on the Internet for sites that sell diabetic supplies with up to 50 percent discounts, or more. Make sure you read their delivery, guarantee and refund policies.

• Pay off credit cards right away. Ideally, you shouldn't use credit cards to purchase diabetes medications and tools, because of the additional cost of paying interest. However, many online suppliers accept credit cards only. Use a low-interest card and pay the entire balance each month.

• Buy generic brands. Ask your doctor to prescribe generic diabetes medications instead of name brands. Generic drugs help cut the cost of diabetes treatment by saving you up to 80 percent. Also, learn more about cheaper types of insulin from your doctor.

• Consider cheaper brands. For instance, if you're accustomed to a particular monitor but can no longer afford it, try a cheaper model you haven't used before. It's better than going without it altogether.

• Ask about insulin pens. Syringes and needles are still the main ways to inject insulin in America. Around the world, insulin pens are more popular with diabetics. A common concern about these tools is accuracy of the insulin dosage. However, insulin pens are generally considered a safe alternative to syringes for people with type 2 diabetes. Ask your doctor if you can switch.

• Visit a health clinic. If you can't afford to see a doctor, visit a free or low-cost health clinic in your area to cut the cost of diabetes treatment. Some are located in major retailers such as Wal-Mart and CVS.

• Take advantage of COBRA rules. If you're laid off from your job during the recession, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) can help you cut the cost of diabetes care. Under COBRA, you can be covered by your employer's health plan for up to 18 months after you lose your job.

• Join a prescription assistance program. Some pharmaceutical companies and states provide prescription assistance programs to people without health plans or prescription coverage. You can learn more about them at the Partnership for Prescription Assistance website. They also provide information about Medicaid and Medicare.

• Buy canned or frozen vegetables and fruits. Good nutrition helps you to control your blood glucose levels and cuts the cost of diabetes care. Letting veggies and fruits spoil costs is an unnecessary expense. Frozen and canned foods last longer. When buying canned, look for brands with no added salt or sugar.

• Buy in bulk. Reduce your grocery bill by up to 40 percent when you buy in bulk. The same applies to medical supplies. For instance, compare the cost difference between a box of 100 syringes and a box of 50, or the cost of 200 alcohol swabs to 100.

• Adapt a healthier lifestyle. You can cut the cost of diabetes through cheaper, natural ways such as at-home exercise, eating healthy meals at home, and better sleep. They help to control blood sugar directly, and to lower stress, which also affects blood glucose levels and worsens diabetes.

Finding ways to cut the costs of diabetes care is a better alternative to cutting back on diabetes treatment entirely. Don't put your health at risk.